Difeature: Krrish sets new benchmark for special effects in Hindi cinema

Swashbuckling Indian superhero movie creates world-class magic with VFX and DI processing

Coined as the first sci-fi project to be produced in India, Koi…Mil Gaya (2003) opened a new era in Indian movie industry. Inspired by the film E.T, the Extra-Terrestrial, the blockbuster movie’s plot revolved on a mentally challenged boy, who is bestowed with powers by an alien. Determined to double the feat, Filmkraft Productions (India) Pvt Ltd, producer of Koi…Mil Gaya has unleashed a sequel entitled, Krrish. The technology heavy movie is set to be the first indigenous superhero movie in India, hence it will feature Indian movie star, Hrithik Roshan, who also played lead role in Koi…Mil Gaya. “If Koi…Mi l Gaya has the distinction of being the first sci-fi movie in India, then its much awaited sequel, Krrish will be the first Indian superhero movie,â€Â says Rakesh Roshan, producer and director of both Krrish and Koi…Mil Gaya. The movie entwines the best of Western technology and Eastern medley. It is about Krishna, a man born with magical powers, which he got as a legacy from his father – the mentally challenged boy in Koi…Mi l Gaya. The superhero goes to Singapore with his love interest, Priya. In Singapore, Krishna encounters a megalomaniac scientist Dr. Siddhant Arya (Naseeruddin Shah) who dreams of becoming God. Krishna is then ushered to transform into a masked crusader Krrish to stop Dr. Arya from his destructive dreams. Due to the movie’s futuristic concept and its character bestowed with super powers, the film had to be enhanced with VFX (visual effects). Hollywood’s formidable visual effects duo, Marc Kobe and Craig Mumma worked with a team of more than 100 VFX specialists in Prasad EFX to come up with stunning and technically VFX sequences. Mumma and Kobe’s works include Independenc e Day, Godzilla, Swordfish, Deep Blue Sea, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. “They (Mumma and Kobe) flew down to Mumbai to look at many facilities and found that Prasad EFX in Chennai is the best and they can deliver anything. I went by their conviction and that’s how EFX was chosen, “ says Rakesh. One of the largest digital postproduction studios in India, Prasad EFX of the Prasad Group, features state-of-the art equipment and a dedicated team of professionals enabling unlimited creative freedom. Their services include skin tone enhancements, selective defocusing, selective area color control, isolation and control of individual colors, scene-to-scene color matching, enhancing sky colors, adding highlights, creating vignettes and so on. In this film, Prasad EFX executed more than 1,400 VFX shots. K. Himakumar, Senior Line Producer of Prasad EFX added that the studio has executed sophisticated 3D models and animation, including whole body scans. Innumerable 3D replicas of different vehicles were created and animated to match live action footage. “Fire sequences are always a challenge and we have used it to great effect in Krrish. Very complicated wire removals and compositing work were minutely executed, so were critical Special effects that add intensity to images and action shots. A whole futuristic set was designed and implemented by the team at Prasad EFX in 3D,â€Â expounds Himakumar. Furthermore, Himakumar admitted that the team had never done a VFX project of such magnitude before. “This film has a host of different visual effects, most never attempted by the Indian VFX fraternity. It was a huge challenge to conceive and create visual effects with not much of reference or structure.” “It gave us the opportunity to really plan and work on project and quality management. The director also realized the importance of giving time for postproduction. Krrish required about 750 prints since it is the first time a Hindi film is simultaneously releasing (films) in dubbed versions of Tamil and Telugu,â€Â added Himakumar. According to Himakumar, Kobe and Mumma’s experience with Prasad EFX enabled the VFX team to work out every shot to perfection knowing very well what they can be done later in their studio. VFX supervisors were also on location to understand and coordinate the shots. Apart from the visual effects, the film would have some mind blowing act ion sequences. Rakesh chose to work with Hong Kong cinema’s action master Tony Ching Siu-Tung to train Hrithik for the cable work. “It’s not at all easy, “ explains Rakesh. “ You have to know how and when to move, while hanging from cables. Luckily, Hrithik was a keen student and even Tony was surprised when he mastered the art in a matter of 35-40 days…â€Â According to Mumma, the toughest shot was the one in which Hrithik jumps through a truck cabin and its trailer with the camera following him. Very tricky since Hrithik did it on his own, so they shot the truck cabin with Hrithik going through as planned with a camera behind him and later added the trailer in the studio at EFX. Rajiv Raghunathan, Senior Line Producer, DI, EFX, added, “Any film with as much visual effects as Krrish, would face a big challenge during Digital Intermediate process (DI). The DI commenced much before the visual effects were completed. Hence, when the visual effects were later inserted in the timeline, occasionally a need to re-grade the sequence did arise. Also, the film was shot in different locales, high altitudes, and tough lighting conditions. However organized the production crew was, it was not easy to control the ambient light. Maintaining a level of consistency and at the same time creating a glossy product was the highlight of DI for Krrish.

In eight weeks time, the DI processing was completed. The lab sequence during the climax of the film was the most intricate for Raghunathan. “Because of the sheer volume of visual effects layers in this sequence, color timing became critical and required high level of precision…â€Â Raghunathan highlighted some of the challenging sequence/shot in the movie. For him, the design and development of the 3D model of the futuristic laboratory was one of the difficult shots, including some 3D and 2D tracking shots. The team had to visualize the entire set and depict the whole thing from sketches. “The satisfaction we got here was that the director gave us the freedom to come with something appropriate and was finally very impressed with the design,â€Â says Raghunathan.
Meticulous as it may seem, the VFX team had to work minutely on every shot. “Every shot was critical to us. In VFX, it is the finer touches that are important and many a time the viewer would not be able to make out these small elements – like dust as someone runs, or bids in the sky, or butterflies in the garden,â€Â says Himakumar. The potential of the DI process is visible in Krrish in the form of colors, mood and the overall ambience in the film. DI process has allowed every crucial stage to be done digitally; hence, it has opened up an entirely new area of creative control to the cinematographer. Once a film undergoes DI process, the filmmaker can have more control over the content. It increases longevity as opposed to analog films. The EFX team kept a realistic touch and gave just the right level of subtle color adjustments. Prasad EFX uses its Lustre systems heavily for the effects heavy and narrative-driven movie. “When so many controls and options are in front of you, as the Lustre system offers, it is possible to overdo many things and end up with an artificial look. The brief was to maintain a natural tone for the film and it was achieved. Shooting conditions were not the most favorable and grading on the Lustre system provided all the right tools to create a level of uniformity of color and contrast,â€Â explains Himakumar. Prasad Film Labs made more than 750 prints for Krrish for national and global distribution from the DI negatives. Delighted with the outcome, Rakesh comments, “Prasad EFX has done a fantastic job – unbelievable! I was a bit tense as to whether it will be to the standard of Hollywood but I think they have lifted the status of the film to a very high level. It is not like Hollywood. It is Hollywood. I salute the entire EFX team.â€Â Established in 1996, Prasad EFX continues to attract clients across Asia for its cutting-edge feature film and commercial visual effects. Since its inception, the studio has delivered stunning visual effects for more than 200 feature films, and converted more than 25 digitally shot Indian and foreign language motion pictures to film. Prasad EFX continues to shine its slate with five Lustre systems for color grading, a Cintel DSX, a Thomson Spirit 4K Datacine, five Oxberry Film Scanners, four Arrisaler film recorders, and two Celco Film recorders. Apart from these, the studio has multiple graphic suites, such as smoke, flame, combustions, and shake. Prasad EFX works on 3D Studiomax and Maya.

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